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A dejected Chris Atkinson has had a miserable start to the Rally of New Zealand, dropping over two and a half minutes to rally leader Marcus Gronholm after just two stages.

A spin in the first stage has been compounded by a lack of grip on the slippery NZ gravel, but Atkinson wouldn't give much away at the end of the second stage.

"I know I can do the times, but it's not happening this morning - we'll have to have a look at things back at service," he mused.

Gronholm leads the rally by 17 seconds from team-mate Mikko Hirvonen, with Manfred Stohl third in his Peugeot. Petter Solberg has also had traction problems in his Subaru, while Xevi Pons' Citroen has had minor overheating problems.

Cars have now headed back to service at Hamilton, before repeating the morning's stages later today.

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